A Superhero, Baseball Legend, Musical Icon: Remembering Chadwick Boseman — A Larger Than Life Character with a Larger Than Life Impact
After a long battle with stage III colon cancer, actor Chadwick Boseman has passed away at just the age of 43 this past Friday. This year is supposed to be the year that has taught us to expect the unexpected always, but even this tragedy struck like the world lost yet another astonishing influence way too soon. As a void is felt throughout the spectrum, like losing a real life hero.
But what made Boseman’s existence go beyond just his profession and bringing entertainment to millions of people around the world?
Not only did he exceed the talent needed to fill the roles he has played in his career, but he did it with such charisma that transpired his characters to come to life.
But for the 15 films he’s acted in, in 10 of those he performed at an awe-inspiring level while simultaneously facing his battle with cancer. Something that’s even difficult to fathom in a fiction story.
In 2003, the South Carolina native launched his iconic career by playing a role in the television show Third Watch. Just like every other individual in this industry, Boseman had to claw up the ladder that requires and immense amount of resilience and patience to find the pinnacle of success. Which is exactly what he did.
In 2013, after 10 years of playing supporting roles, he got his first starring position for the film 42, the story of Jackie Robinson.
In this movie, he was able to recreate the adversities a black player faced in the world of baseball back in the 1940’s. Discrimination, bigotry, and utter hatred playing the sport in a white man’s world.
Boseman’s job was complex. To bring back the emotions and the story that surfaced in an issue that seems to be so long ago, but in reality, holds a value of relevance that this country’s black community is still facing.
In the movie, Boseman’s character was the embodiment of what minorities in this country have built themselves to be. A powerful force of longevity with the incredible will to dig themselves out of the oppression bestowed on them.
“God built me to last,” Boseman said in the film as Robinson.
This statement is a perspective that is able to resonate with people. In a way of empowerment and assurance that everything will change for the better, one way or another.
Boseman was able to do that for his audience.
The actor’s professional range was up there with the elite of notable individuals to excel in the film industry.
He also played singing legend James Brown in Get on Up back in 2014. A role that not only needed the right face, but the right delivery exemplify such a unique talent like Brown.
Boseman was able to do just that.
But in 2016, that was when he was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America: Civil War. As his contribution to the MCU would be the gem he’s worked his whole career for.
Although starring in his own superhero adaptation Black Panther in 2018, and being an essential part to the conclusion of the MCU with Infinity War and Endgame (2018–2019), he performed these career pivotal roles while dealing with that perplexing war against his cancer.
People usually leave work or put their careers at a full halt when it comes to dealing with such a daunting health issue. But Boseman not only put up a fight, but he showed his body that his will truly is stronger than his disease. That he will not allow this disease to not just define his strive for his career, but in the life he lived.
No one told him he had to do this though, it was based off his own decision to keep moving. But why put your body in such strain for the entertainment of others? This was something only Boseman knew that went beyond getting paid and getting famous. To him, he needed to do these films for those that were just like him.
He found out how much the making of Black Panther and bringing the character to life meant to two kids, Ian and Taylor (last names not disclosed).
As he was in contact with them during the making of the film, he realized more and more that these kids were hoping to be around long enough to see the film and their hero themselves.
This gave him the motivation and that superhero strength to push through his own struggle to bring something great for them. He knew what his duty was not as an actor, but as a figure of influence for people going though the extremes life has in store. Something he himself was able to resonate with.
Boseman later found out that Ian and Taylor both passed away due to their cancer, and as he talked about it during an interview with Sirius XM, it was evident that he knew his name and work’s potential did not solely rely on box office sales, but the people who are willing to take away something positive from his efforts.
The talented actor was aware that there was so much more to life than the fame and glamor that the movie industry brings. He found something much bigger than that and much bigger than himself.
As he stated in his 2018 Howard University commencement speech appearance,
“Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on this planet in this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill….The struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose….When God has something for you, it doesn’t matter who stands against it.”
At the end, he didn’t just die a hero that wanted to save others, he died a hero that saved himself from getting lost in it all. A feat all so super in itself.